Book Review: Devin Morgan’s Aris Returns

Posted December 17, 2012 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Devin Morgan’s Aris Returns

Aris Returns

in eBook edition on October 25, 2012 and has 335 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

First in the Infinity Diaries Trilogy urban fantasy series. The couple focus is on Sarah Hagan and Carlos/Aris.

This could have been a “4” and I really wanted to at least give it a “3” for Morgan’s terrific imagination. But her execution and the overwhelming errors in this don’t merit more than a “2”.

If this had been an ARC that hadn’t been published, I wouldn’t have been as scathing with the errors I found. As it is, publish and perish.

My Take

On the whole, I like this story. It’s an intriguing twist using past-life regression and incorporating Carlos’ horrible childhood, his short life of crime, and Aris’ history. Anything with history involved pretty much grabs my attention, and I enjoyed this journey into the Tudor court. Although, Morgan needs to brush up on her history. She has Anne married to Henry and queen, and then follows this up by saying Katherine is still queen and married to Henry. Oops.

I also enjoyed Morgan’s theory of the development of vampires. And, hey, why not? It could have happened this way. Nice touch bringing in Atlantis!

Using italics provided a nice division between Sarah’s real-world life and Aris’ recitations.

I would have liked to see greater tension with everyone’s encounters with Manu. Morgan makes a great start at it, but then it simply drops off.

As for the writing, it is schizophrenic. On the one hand, most of it is beautifully poetic with a lilting rhythm, especially when Aris is recounting his past in Henry VIII’s court, and then Morgan spoils it with short, choppy, juvenile sentences.

This is a great sentence:

“Was this what it felt like to slowly lose one’s mind, or was it the first time she truly understood how love and passion defy all logic?”

Then there’s:

“Sarah was tired and not just a little bit hungry. The smells of the restaurant made her stomach growl. She was glad they didn’t have to wait for a table.”

Wouldn’t this better suit the rhythm that Morgan has going?

“Tired and more than a bit hungry, the smells of the restaurant made Sarah’s stomach growl, and she was glad they didn’t have to wait for a table.”

And there are so many instances that are similar to this.

Then there are times when it reads more like stage direction and, Christ, we don’t need to know her every move. Thank god, we didn’t have to follow her into the bathroom!

Nice turnabout with Carlos stepping back from that particular romantic encounter. As assertive as he’s been, this was most unexpected. Morgan did have some lovely tension in this three-way attraction. Part of me couldn’t bear the emotions churning with Carlos’ awareness of how attracted Sarah is to Aris, but she’s also interested in Carlos, and yet, I can’t help but feel that Morgan could have gone deeper with this. Could have brought me to tears. As it is, I feel ambivalent about the next story I’m sure she’s planning.

Wait a minute, Colleen and Bob have been living together for a year, and, now that she’s married “she’s getting used to the routine”? Just what changed other than some words on a piece of paper?

Where the hell is the editor???

I did enjoy the girls-all-together part of this. It’s nice to find three women who will take time away from their lives and their significant others to simply be friends together.

Why does Akira defend Aris? I’d like some reasons for this. I’d also like to know what the point was in bringing Jeff in as Morgan did. He pops in with his out-of-this-world statement, and Morgan goes nowhere with it. Is she saving this for the next book?

WTF? In the same bit of dialog, Colleen first says, “…and the scum will walk.” By the second sentence after this, in the same paragraph of dialog mind you, Colleen then says, “…they had to let him go.” Is anyone paying attention in the writing of this story?

If this were an ARC that was not yet published, I would have expected that there would be some typos, grammatical errors, and some formatting issues. But. This was published the end of October, and I received it on November 6th. This is just terrible. I have to confess, I’ve really downgraded this for the massive, massive, massive number of problems. I don’t normally mention errors in a review. Unless they achieve epic proportions, as does Aris Returns.

The Story

It’s a step down a different path for Sarah, treating a paroled man. One who regresses to Tudor England and Anne Boleyn, as one of the undead.

He’s assertive off the analyst’s couch as well. A confidence Sarah isn’t sure she can handle. Then Aris comes to consciousness while Carlos is still out on her couch. He wants to scare her off, to stop her seeing Carlos, so he, Aris, won’t hurt her. And yet, he can’t stop seeing her.

The Characters

Sarah Hagan has been a psychologist for ten years, ever since her divorce from Jeff. And she’s smart enough to know she needs to work on her own issues with Bonnie, a fellow therapist and a friend. Colleen Stevens is also a friend and a parole officer. She’s asked Sarah to work with Carlos as part of his parole agreement. Bob Drake is a cop and soon to be Colleen’s husband.

Carlos Havarro is an ex-felon, a mite too handy with his fists, and he’s seeing Sarah as part of his parole requirements. Isabella Havarro is his beleaguered mother with Fernando as his fist- and strap-happy father. Javier is the younger brother Carlos is trying to protect.

Manu leads the gang of young thugs who gave Carlos his first sense of family.

Tudor England
Aris, a vampire, is Carlos’ alter ego when he regresses to the court of Henry VIII. Bess Wyatt, the sister of Thomas Wyatt, is newly come to court, and Aris is in love. Anne Boleyn is requesting favors of Aris to protect her brother George and to fulfill her own petty vengeances. Cardinal Wolsey, Jane Seymour, and Katherine of Aragon are some of the characters from this time.

Aris was a soldier with Alexander the Great when he was turned. Alexander staked him and had him buried, where he lay for 500 years.

The Vampire Catacombs in London
Khansu and Akira are the King and Queen of the vampire underworld. The ones from whom they are all descended. Sebastian is the first and the oldest of their children; he now serves them in London.

Gabriela and Richard are vampires who meet up with Aris between the Spanish emperor and the Tudor court.

This is my own particular prejudice, but I believe you should give your characters the respect of last names. The live ones anyway. I guess I should count myself lucky that Carlos, Sarah, Colleen, and Bob got to have surnames. I’m not counting Anne Boleyn or Henry as they came readymade.

The Cover and Title

The black and red cover makes a nice contrast with Aris’ pale skin and black hair. Mmmm, those full lips of his… I love both the font used in the initial caps of the title as well as the embroidered ribbon behind which Aris peeks. It’s so starkly clean and yet with a wealth of meaning.

The title is true enough, for Aris Returns in more ways than one.